Lifestyle

Senator goes batty over red tape for CQ and links to Ebola

SENATOR Matt Canavan believes it's "ridiculously difficult" for Central Queensland communities to take action on bats.

And the Rockhampton-based LNP Senator has called for Australian governments to remove red tape around bat culling and moving permits.

Senator Canavan said the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which had killed 4493 people and infected 8997 as of October 12, highlighted the need to be vigilant about the threat posed by bats.

There have been 24 outbreaks of Ebola in Africa since its discovery in 1976.

Fruit bats are believed to be natural hosts of the disease, but are unaffected by it.

There have also been outbreaks among species including chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys and forest antelope.

Since the latest Ebola outbreak began in West Africa, 11 Australians have been tested for the disease and returned negative results.

CULL THE BATS: LNP Senator Matt Canavan’s view of containing Ebola.
CULL THE BATS: LNP Senator Matt Canavan’s view of containing Ebola. Photo Illustration

In a statement, Senator Canavan referred to research from the CSIRO which found bats carried more than 100 viruses, many of which could be fatal to humans.

While there is no evidence Australian fruit bats are carriers of Ebola, Senator Canavan said there were known to carry lyssavirus and hendra virus.

In September 2009, Rockhampton vet Alister Rodgers died after treating a hendra virus-infected horse initially believed to have been bitten by a snake.

"We can't persist with the philosophy that the lives and habitats of diseased-ridden pests are more important than humans," Senator Canavan said.

"Where communities want to cull or move these pests, they should be allowed, indeed encouraged, to do so.

"The risks of having disease-carrying bats close to human populations are just too great."

EMU Park animal advocate Lyn Laskus believes Senator Matt Canavan''s comments about bats create "hate, fear and panic".

The volunteer wildlife carer and licensed bat rehabilitator yesterday condemned the Rockhampton-based LNP Senator's call for governments to make it easier for communities to cull or move bats in their area.

Ms Laskus said the comments put the "safety and the mental wellbeing of volunteer wildlife carers at risk".

She said while much was still being learnt about Ebola, bats had become a scapegoat for the disease because they were easier to hate than chimpanzees or deer.

She said eating wild meat raw, not being able to access proper sanitation and lack of hygiene facilities contributed to the rapid spread of the virus in West Africa.

"I have been bitten by rats, cats, bats, dogs, possums, birds, insects and I am still here and I will still continue to advocate to care handle and care for bats whenever and wherever I can," Ms Laskus said.

"Moving bats is doing a lot of damage to whole ecosystem, the very system that humans require for their own survival."

Senator Canavan's comments also angered Northern Queenslanders, with DominiqueThirietfrom Mt Surround writing a letter to the editor on the topic.

She said Ebola was not an issue in Australia with no flying fox migration from Africa.

"In any case the African epidemic seems to have its origin in the practice of killing flying foxes for bush meat and eating them raw," she wrote.

Ms Thiriet said only 0.1% of the Australian bat population carried lyssavirus, a disease that could be avoided easily by not handling bats or completing a course of vaccination if scratched

. She said the CSIRO and other health authorities had found stressed animals were more likely to be sick.

"So if we want to increase the risk of disease transmission, by all means, let's follow Senator Canavan's suggestion and encourage people to disperse flying foxes willy nilly - the purpose of dispersal activities being to cause the animals so much stress and fear that they will move away," she Ms Thiriet said.

Where they are?

Rockhampton region: small population of black flying foxes in Kabra

Livingstone Shire Council was unable to tell The Morning Bulletin where bats were roosting in their area, referring our questions to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. They were unable to answer, referring us back to council.

What is hendra

Bats are natural carriers of the disease, but do not show signs of illness if infected.

Hendra virus can be transmitted from bat to horse, between horses and from horse to human.

There is no evidence it can transmit from bat to human, human to horse or between humans.

What is Ebola

Ebolavirus is a serious and often fatal disease which starts with a sudden onset of fever, muscle aches, weakness and headache.

The next stage may include vomiting, diarrhoea, sore throat, cough, rash and malfunction of liver and kidneys.

Cases may progress to multi-organ failure, sometimes with profuse internal and external bleeding.

Fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of Ebolavirus. There have been 24 outbreaks of Ebolavirus in Africa since the first outbreaks in 1976.

There is no evidence that Ebolavirus is present in Australian bats or other animals.

Topics:  bats, ebola, matthew canavan



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